Three Patriot Wrestlers Earn Individual Titles
The view from the top was great for three Pinecrest Wrestlers who took champions' medals at the 2007 Mid-Southeastern Conference Wrestling tournament Saturday at Jack Britt High School.
Sam Ransdell (103 pounds), Brad McKeever (152) and Glen Holmes (189) wrestled their way to league championships and all-conference recognition in double-elimination competition that included a healthy helping of ranked opponents.
The Patriot prize package continued to grow with Holmes' double selection as Mid-Southeastern Conference Wrestler of the Year and the tournament's Most Outstanding Wrestler.
A third-place finish by Andrew Pugsley and fourth-place awards for Zane Excell (125), Ronell Howard (171) and Daniel Keith (215) added the final touches to a satisfying finish to the regular season for a young squad that struggled at times this year.
"It's a good indication of how far we've come this season,'" said Pinecrest coach Qumars Shodja. "We've grown a lot and we've surprised people at times."
Ransdell stuck Westover lightweight Sam Gibson in 30 seconds, then dominated Jack Britt's A.J. Oliphant in a 9-2 decision to claim his second conference title at 103. The Pinecrest junior takes a 40-7 record and the No. 2 NCMat Super 32 ranking into regional competition.
"I'm a lot more comfortable with my moves than I was last year," Ransdell said. "I'm looking forward to regionals."
Conference champion was a goal that McKeever set for himself at the start of the season, and it took a fierce head-to-head challenge with top-seeded James McNeill of Richmond County to accomplish that goal.
McNeill scored the first point on a second-period escape, but lost the lead on a penalty resulting from a push from out of bounds. McKeever went up 2-1 on an escape from a defensive start in the third period, then frustrated McNeill's attack in the final seconds to take the win.
"I wanted it!" said McKeever. "He's strong and I knew he would be tough, but I wanted it."
Preliminary round wins over Murray Conner of Westover and Hector Rodriguez of Hoke, fueled McKeever's tournament performance and boosted his season totals to 32-11. His stock in NCMat's Super 32 rankings should rise from his current 10th spot after the win over fifth-ranked McNeill.
It was a day of repetition for Holmes, who added another conference title to his resume and chalked up another victory over Douglas Byrd's Keith Farrington. Holmes knocked off Hoke's Chris McCain in 20 seconds, then pinned Richmond 189-pounder Titus Funderburk to set up the meeting with Farrington.
Holmes had stunned Farrington three days earlier in a regular-season meeting, pinning the Byrd senior early in the second period.
This time around, it looked as if Farrington might get the initial takedown when he elevated Holmes leg, working for a trip, but Holmes turned the tables with a spiral move that sent Farrington to the mat and led to the fall moments later with time left on the clock in the first round.
Holmes took it all in stride.
"I don't want to take anyone lightly, but once I got the takedown, I knew I had it," he said.
With a 43-1 record and ranked second by NCMat, Holmes will be a favorite and a force to be reckoned with in a region that has what some consider the toughest 189-pound bracket in the state.
Despite a winning 15-11 season in dual competition, the Patriots are out of the picture for this week's dual playoffs, but they will use the time to prepare for the 4-A East Regional individual competition set for Feb. 16-17 at New Hanover High School in Wilmington.
Wrestlers from 27 schools out of the Mid-Southeastern, Mid-Eastern, Two Rivers and Greater Neuse River conferences will vie for the 16 spots in each weight class. Qualification and entry is based on overall individual winning percentage. The top-four finishers in each weight class advance to the state tournament.
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